Influence of microwave frequency electromagnetic radiation on terpene emission and content in aromatic plants

J Plant Physiol. 2014 Sep 15;171(15):1436-43. doi: 10.1016/j.jplph.2014.06.013. Epub 2014 Jul 8.


Influence of environmental stress factors on both crop and wild plants of nutritional value is an important research topic. The past research has focused on rising temperatures, drought, soil salinity and toxicity, but the potential effects of increased environmental contamination by human-generated electromagnetic radiation on plants have little been studied. Here we studied the influence of microwave irradiation at bands corresponding to wireless router (WLAN) and mobile devices (GSM) on leaf anatomy, essential oil content and volatile emissions in Petroselinum crispum, Apium graveolens and Anethum graveolens. Microwave irradiation resulted in thinner cell walls, smaller chloroplasts and mitochondria, and enhanced emissions of volatile compounds, in particular, monoterpenes and green leaf volatiles (GLV). These effects were stronger for WLAN-frequency microwaves. Essential oil content was enhanced by GSM-frequency microwaves, but the effect of WLAN-frequency microwaves was inhibitory. There was a direct relationship between microwave-induced structural and chemical modifications of the three plant species studied. These data collectively demonstrate that human-generated microwave pollution can potentially constitute a stress to the plants.

Keywords: Abiotic stress; Aromatic plants; Essential oils; Microwave; Volatile organic compounds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anethum graveolens / chemistry
  • Anethum graveolens / radiation effects*
  • Anethum graveolens / ultrastructure
  • Apium / chemistry
  • Apium / radiation effects*
  • Apium / ultrastructure
  • Chloroplasts / metabolism
  • Electromagnetic Radiation
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Microwaves
  • Oils, Volatile / metabolism*
  • Petroselinum / chemistry
  • Petroselinum / radiation effects*
  • Petroselinum / ultrastructure
  • Photosynthesis
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / isolation & purification
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Plant Leaves / radiation effects
  • Plant Leaves / ultrastructure
  • Species Specificity
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Terpenes / metabolism*
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / metabolism*
  • Wireless Technology


  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts
  • Terpenes
  • Volatile Organic Compounds